Bass Fishing

The Drop on Dropshotting

Fishing Techniques

Rarely does a technique come along that revolutionizes the way we fish for bass.

In recent years, flipping helped launch an all out assault on shallow-water bass. Don lovino's Doodle worm magic, commonly referred to as "shakin'", put the hurt on many a deep-water structure fish; and of course, splitshotting wins more club and team tournaments than just about any other Western method.

The next great bass fishing technique to sweep through this country is already here. "Dropshotting," (sometimes called downshotting or under-shotting) is currently being used by many top Western pros to score victories in major pro-am events.

Dropshotting is a technique that developed in Japan to offset the heavy pressure that most Japanese lakes must endure. To get bit on a Japanese reservoir, one must get very tricky because their bass are "smart fish."

Like so many other techniques, every angler has his own idea of what Dropshotting is supposed to be; and like so many other techniques, there are many different variations that do catch fish. For the last six months I have discussed this subject with other anglers via e-mail and chat. I have also spent time with Scott Whitmer of "No Name Worm Company," who has been pouring dropshot worms and sending them to Japan for several years. Scott understands more about Japanese dropshotting than anyone I have spoken with, and I owe a lot of what I know about this technique to him. I have also been to the drawing board several times myself to figure out the intricacies of this rapidly developing phenomenon.

The Technique

Dropshotting is a finesse worm fishing technique that involves a plastic worm being fished on a small, live-bait hook, rigged with the point exposed, and fished above a weight which is at the bottom of the line. This technique is still being defined and refined in this country, and there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. For example:

Where is a dropshot most effective? These answers will seem a little wide in scope, but I have seen this technique work in each of these situations.

  1. Image
    Dropshotting can be done in severe weather.
    Dropshotting can be done in severe weather.
    Dropshotting is a very good structure technique. Locate deep structure and drop the bait directly on top of the fish (down to 50 feet and deeper.)
  2. Cast to the shore and work the bait back to the boat.
  3. Putting your boat on the bank, cast into deeper water and work uphill (very good in early spring.)
  4. Dropshotting over bedding fish.
  5. Using a heavier set up, flipping a dropshotted worm along deep tulles or grass beds.

While there really is no way to dropshot incorrectly, there are many things you can do to improve your presentation, thus improving your chances of catching more fish.

The Rod

The dropshot technique starts with the rod action. Dropshot fishing is usually a light-tackle technique which means spinning rods, and the use of 4- to 6-pound line. Here is where we encounter our first problem with this technique. Almost all worming rods come with a fast tip to ensure the "eye-crossing" pressure needed to set the hook on a bass, as well as to be as sensitive as possible to detect the "nothing bites," often associated with finicky bass.

To properly dropshot, a "spongy" or "soft noodle tip," is needed for two reasons:

  1. When working a dropshotted worm, we want a "quivering" or "pulsating" rhythm on our worms. A fast-tipped rod will impart too much action on the worm, causing it to dart and loop in a very unnatural fashion.
  2. Fish on the dropshot rig do not give the subtle "tap-tap" associated with other worm fishing techniques. Since the worm is up off of the bottom and "in their face," bass are usually moving horizontally to the bottom when they strike, so the bite gives the sensation of having the rod torn out of the angler's hand. A spongy tip is needed to absorb this "big tug," much the same way that glass cranking rods absorb the strike on crankbaits and topwater lures.
A nice largemouth on Lake Perris caught with a dropshot rig.
A nice largemouth on Lake Perris caught with a dropshot rig.

Again, a typical fast tipped worm rod will not absorb the bite very well, and we may actually pull the worm out of the fish's mouth before we get a good hookset.

This presents us with problem number two. Trout rods have the best tip for dropshotting, however, they rarely have the back bone to properly fight and land a bass.

The Tackle

Dropshot baits can come in various shapes and colors.
Dropshot baits can come in various shapes and colors.

Your favorite soft plastic worm will work for dropshotting with the one rule of thumb being, the bigger the worm, the heavier the weight. You need the weight to be on the bottom in order to create the correct action. A light weight with a large worm, will get jerked off the bottom, and the action on the worm will not be as effective. As a general rule, with a 2-inch worm, I will use 4- to 6-pound-test line, and a 3/16- to 1/4-ounce weight. On larger worms up to 4 inches, I will use 8- to 10- pound line and I like to use weights that are between 1/4 and 3/8 of an ounce. Regular worm hooks rigged Texas style might help you fish this strange-looking technique with confidence, however, a small live-bait hook, in a size 4, rigged with the hook exposed through the front tip of a 2- to 3- inch worm can be dynamite! Bass rarely ever hit the dropshot worm tail first. Just as they would strike a shad or minnow, it's head first, which is where our hook is.

Tips That Make A Difference

Many anglers are fishing their own version of the dropshot technique and catching fish. Having spent a considerable amount of time refining my technique, here are a few observations that make a difference:

  1. Light line, 4 to 6 pounds, gets bit better than does heavier line. A bite is a bite and when things are tough, I am happy to get them when I can.
  2. Learning to use a drop-loop and using the small live bait hook rigged through the front tip of the worm really enhances the "quiver" of the worm.
  3. A swivel weight at the bottom of the rig will prevent line twist and make the experience a lot more pleasant.
  4. The right rod, one with a spongy tip and a strong back bone, not only helps create the perfect action, but plays a major role in absorbing the heavy "tug" associated with a bite on the dropshot.
  5. Using your favorite fish attractant is a must.
  6. Fishing smaller-than-usual worms, especially those with a skinny profile get bit very well when the bite is tough. True dropshot worms have tiny rattles poured into them and many anglers "in the know" swear by them.

Once again, has given you the inside scoop. Now you have the drop on dropshotting.

Reprinted with permission from Bass West Magazine